Binge Painkiller on Netflix
Binge Painkiller on Netflix – The origins of the opioid crises in the United States, as seen through the eyes of perpetrators, victims, and truth-seekers.
All three of the original Sackler brothers who bought Purdue and ultimately developed oxycontin were physicians.
Binge Painkiller on Netflix – At the peak of their sales and marketing, Purdue hired 3,000 doctors to serve on their speakers bureau—a fact which certainly does not reflect well on the medical profession
Binge Painkiller on Netflix – Storyline
The factually-based Netflix drama miniseries Painkiller is a dramatized version of the case against the Sackler family and their company, Purdue Pharma.
The series examines the role that the Sackler family played in the rise of the highly addictive OxyContin being prescribed as a pain medication, leading to the devastating opioid crisis.
Painkiller focuses on four figures in the narrative.
Richard Sackler, Purdue Pharma’s CEO who is determined to stay unaccountable and in profit.
Tire shop owner, family man, and Oxy addict Glen Kryger.
Shannon Schaeffer, an ambitious Purdue sales rep who embarks on a modern Rake’s Progress from bright-eyed true believer in pain relief to disillusioned drug pusher.
And Edie Flowers a dogged federal investigator.
The DOJ attorney for the Western District of Virginia, John Brownlee (an actual person, not a fictional construct) in 2002 starts looking into whether Purdue pushed a product that the company knew to be addictive and hires Edie to help him.
Their efforts are frustrated because, since OxyContin was an FDA-approved medication, no crime has been committed.
Brownlee is finally able to bring criminal charges against the company and three top executives in 2007 after Edie discovers a doctor who has been sending warnings about the addictive nature of the drug to the company for years.
This discovery meant the executives lied (a felony) when they testified in front of Congress in 2001 that OxyContin’s addiction rate was less than 1 percent if the drug was used as prescribed.
Furthermore, Edie discovers that the source Purdue relied on for this figure was not, as executives testified, a “landmark study,” but only a letter to the editor of the New England Journal of Medicine.
All but Sackler are composite characters, created for the purposes of this story.
Binge Painkiller on Netflix – Rudy Giuliani
To defend the company against the criminal charges, Purdue hires Rudolph Giuliani as one of three powerhouse lawyers.
Edie is looking forward to the case going to trial so the victims can finally get some justice, but on the day it is supposed to start, Purdue pleads guilty to one count of misbranding and settles.
Part of the settlement is that the evidence Brownlee’s investigation has discovered will be buried.
When Edie learns that her boss agreed to these terms because Giuliani called Congress, Congress called the DOJ, and the DOJ told Brownlee to cut a deal, she is so disgusted that she quits the DOJ.
In actuality, Purdue did indeed hire Giuliani, as much for his Washington connections as his legal expertise, complaining to the then-Deputy Attorney General James Comey (yes, the future FBI director) that Brownlee was exceeding his legal authority in pursuit of documents from the company.
Giuliani was not able to prevent Purdue’s conviction for fraudulent marketing claims about OxyContin’s safety.
As part of the deal, he did secure an agreement that would make it difficult for the DOJ to prosecute the company in the future and ensured that senior executives would not serve prison time (to this day the Sacklers have never faced criminal charges relating to the opioid epidemic.)
He also negotiated away a threatened prohibition on the federal government doing business with Purdue, a ban that would have greatly cut into the company’s profits.
In return, Purdue pleaded guilty to a felony charge of misbranding and paid a federal fine of $635 million.
Brownlee defended the settlement, later saying he thought other agencies would use the felony conviction to look more closely at Purdue and OxyContin.
But there was no follow-up. According to Keefe, Purdue, along with other companies in the painkiller sector, spent nearly $900 million on lobbying and political contributions between 2001 and 2015—eight times more than the gun lobby spent in the same period.
Binge Painkiller on Netflix – What Happened to Richard Sackler?
Binge Painkiller on Netflix – Richard stepped down from his role as president of Purdue in 2003, but remained on the company’s board. He has since distanced himself from the company and its legacy, taking a teaching position at Rockefeller University.
Oxford University will remove the Sackler name from its buildings following a review of its relationship with the family that recently expressed regret for its role in the US opioid crisis
Richard Sackler is an American businessman and physician who has a net worth of $1 billion.
The Sackler family at large is worth $14-15 billion. Richard Sackler is notorious for his involvement with his family’s pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma.
Binge Painkiller on Netflix – The Richard Sackler Deal
Binge Painkiller on Netflix – The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit granted the family legal immunity in exchange for a $6 billion payout to the thousands of plaintiffs in the case. In the 1990s, Purdue Pharma, owned by the Sackler family, developed OxyContin, an extended-release version of oxycodone.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit court of appeals approved Purdue’s bankruptcy plan in May, ruling that the company can shield its owners from opioid lawsuits in exchange for a $6 billion contribution to the company’s broader bankruptcy settlement
As reported in the May 31st publication of The Star Ledger, individual payments are expected to range from about $3,500 to $48,000.
A group comprising more than 60,000 people who have filed personal injury claims stemming from their exposure to Purdue opioid products told the Supreme Court they support the settlement, including legal immunity for members of the Sackler family.